1141   Insight talk

The humanistic story of COVID-19: Communicating the complexity and science of COVID-19 and global health surveillance through innovative digital, new media approaches

Author: Susan Rauch
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, United States

The impact of COVID-19 as a global pandemic affected the world from both a health and communication standpoint from which public audiences continue to seek out simple explanations to complex scientific information. According to Budd et al (2020), “digital technologies are being harnessed to support the public-health response to COVID-19 worldwide” to include public communication. Therefore, the field of science communication should consider the currency and relevance of innovative digital new media platforms as a humanistic approach to inform public audiences about complex science and global health threats such as the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic.

The complexity of communicating science becomes lost among citizen and public understanding whereby science communicators must continue to adapt to changing digital media landscapes in response to citizens who engage with issues in science and technology. As a direct appeal, new transmedia web sources have emerged as interactive approaches to communicate the scientific story of COVID-19 (Ting, Lawrence, Dzau, & Wong, 2020; Doyle & Conboy, 2020; Mheidly &Fares, 2020). Since March 2020, interactive web platforms, such as the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 dashboard and Esri storymaps, have emerged as go-to public sources for information. Public web searches related to “COVID-19, science communication, storymaps or photovoice, and digital technologies” alone yielded between 182,000 and 340,000+ results (and continues to grow), while peer-reviewed scholarship produced 13,000+ peer-reviewed articles.

This talk evaluates humanistic approaches to science communication and the global impact of COVID-19 by examining emerging trends in interactive, digital photovoice projects and storymaps supported by transmedia design that simplify the complexity and human story of the global pandemic.

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